One of The 10 Best Albums of 2013: ‘This collection of Irving Berlin songs has deliciously deft numbers like Shakin' the Blues Away, and witty ones like He Ain't got Rhythm (where Rodney Bennett's quavering tenor is just as satisfying in its way as Martin's rich, lingering contralto).' The Telegraph
Lifelong friends on and off stage, Martin and Bennett recorded three studio albums and enjoyed acclaimed concert performances in a collaboration that flourished over two decades. Recorded in New York, ‘Say It Isn't So' is their last recording together and one of which Claire is immensely proud. Bennett's skilful arrangements highlight why Berlin was widely considered one of the greatest songwriters of all time and brilliantly showcase Claire's assured and expressive voice.
Claire and Richard's previous duo albums, 'When Lights are Low' and ‘Witchcraft', received wide critical acclaim: ‘their albums set the standard for classic interpretations of popular songs' (The Observer).
The human voice was a life-long source of inspiration for Richard Rodney Bennett; not only as a composer of perfectly crafted vocal and choral works, but as a songwriter, piano accompanist and singer himself. His knowledge of popular song from the ‘golden age' of the twentieth century was unmatched - there were few songs he didn't know inside out, verse and chorus, and throughout his long and widely-varied career he enjoyed a number of celebrated musical partnerships with some of the leading jazz and cabaret singers in both the UK and abroad.
His collaboration with Claire Martin was, for many of his friends and admirers, the most successful and musically satisfying of his musical partnerships. At first they made for slightly unusual bedfellows - he the grand old man of British music and she the brightest of the young jazz stars - but the chemistry between them was special from the off. The love, respect and admiration they had for each other is evident in every track they recorded together over the years.
© John Wilson, 2013
In 2011 Richard and I played the Oak Room (which has now sadly closed) at the wonderful Algonquin Hotel in New York City for a 3 week run. Our show was called ‘A Couple of Swells' and it was our tribute to the great Irving Berlin. We spent months going over the song possibilities - Berlin had been so prolific! - and eventually chose our favourites to make up our two sets.
This album, also recorded in New York, captures the best of the show and Richard's tasteful arrangements give each song a special magic. It was an honour to work with Richard and I'm very proud of have had the privilege to have known him and to have loved him. Singing with Richard was always a joy; we had so much fun and so many laughs together. He was very pleased
that this album was going to be released. I hope you enjoy it - we loved making it.
© Claire Martin, 2013